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Accepted Paper:

Creating ethical agency in post-disaster Japan: Anti-nuclear protesters’ 10 years of struggle  
Azumi Tamura (Shiga University)

Paper short abstract:

Social complexity challenges our knowledge and blurs a sense of responsibility to avoid catastrophic futures. By examining Japan’s anti-nuclear movement after the Fukushima disaster, this paper argues that emotional practices expand one’s identity beyond ‘here and now’ and create ethical agency.

Paper long abstract:

In March 2011, Japan experienced a catastrophic disaster of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, due to the massive earthquake and tsunami. Yet, ten years after the disaster, the Japanese government still promote nuclear power in the country where another mega-quake is predicted to occur. While our modern technology could bring devastating damage to the future, today’s complex social systems undermine scientific reasoning to calculate risks and blur the attribution of responsibility. How can we imagine another catastrophe in the future and start action to prevent it? Based on the author’s fieldwork, this paper finds a possible new ethical agency in the practices of the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear protesters in Tokyo. Rather than projecting a clear vision of the future dystopia or utopia, these protesters are taking action based on their own emotions here and now. One of the notable emotions is a sense of regret about being indifferent in the past. The disaster disclosed their hidden complicity because the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had generated energy for the Tokyo region. Then they took to the street to ‘engrave’ the pains of those who had been silenced and started their action, hoping to redeem their pride by creating a better future. By examining these practices through a new materialist framework, this paper argues that although the cognitive imagination of an individual body tends to be limited to here and now, the protesters are reformulating ethical agency for the future through encountering other bodies and “engraving” affects onto their own bodies.

Panel Exti09a
Creations of the catastrophes: imagining hopeful and hopeless futures in a collapsing world I
  Session 1 Friday 2 April, 2021, -